Anyone in town interested in traditional Brazilian dance music has certainly checked out SambaDá, the seven-piece local band that does it amazingly well. It was founded by Papiba Godinho two decades ago, just a couple of years after he moved here from Brazil.
But Godinho has another project he started a few years ago called Papiba and Friends with bassist Etienne Franc and drummer Gary Kehoe, which certainly has Brazilian elements, but veers from the traditional.
“There is more space for the experimental elements of the music. We do a lot more blending of R&B, rock, blues and Northern Americana influences. I think this makes Brazilian music more accessible to our American audiences and opens them to exploring more deeply,” Godinho says.
The group started as Godinho’s answer to gig requests that were more intimate and weren’t appropriate for a large dance band to play. What he found was that he and his smaller group could jam out on songs more, build funky grooves and do pretty much whatever they want. Oddly, this side project has helped SambaDá gain an even larger audience in town.
“I think we do this and it’s actually been helping. I feel like our SambaDá shows are actually getting more popular lately, because people come to see us and they see a little bit of the drumming and the Portuguese and they don’t know what it is. I say ‘oh, it’s Brazilian music, we also have a different project called SambaDá,” Godinho says.
Both of his bands gig regularly, though SambaDá still plays more than Papiba and Friends. Papiba and Friends play a monthly Crow’s Nest gig, which has gotten pretty popular, as well as other gigs around Santa Cruz.
“It’s very cool. SambaDá, because of the size, it ends up becoming a big party. Sometimes it’s hard to break down to something more groovy. but I like that I want to keep exploring that,” Godinho says.
INFO: 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21. Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. $12/adv, $15/door. 479-1854.